While AMD's financial outlook has been bleak with it closing down 12% today, if you're a Linux user -- particularly one with a quad-core Phenom processor -- there is good news to report from the AMD camp.
For those of you that have been using the open-source xf86-video-ati driver, need we remind you of its rapidly-improving state and feature set? One of the latest additions to this open-source ATI driver that supports the old ATI R100 graphics cards up through the new Radeon HD 4800 series (RV770) is tear-free acceleration. The current implementation of this tear-free acceleration is for EXA and Textured Video (X-Video) and should eliminate any "tearing" issues that some users experience. This code isn't yet found in the master branch of its development git repository, but can be acquired through the vsync_accel branch. Alex Deucher, the mastermind behind this latest code, has described this improvement on his blog.
Earlier this week we reported on RadeonHD driver support for the RV770 with the Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards. This support arrived within the RadeonHD driver's new AtomBIOS branch that relies upon ATI's video BIOS abstraction layer as opposed to "banging the registers" and interfacing with the hardware directly. However, the lead developer of the xf86-video-radeonhd driver has back-ported the RV770 support using these hard-coded paths.
The xf86-video-ati 6.8.0 driver was released back in February, and today version 6.9.0 has been released, which is coming just a day after its 6.9.0-rc2 release. Version 6.9.0 of this ATI driver adds improved EXA render support for R100/200 graphics cards, EXA render support for R300/400/500 graphics processors, and Textured Video support through X-Video for R100-500 graphics processors. This open-source driver supports all generations of Radeon graphics processors (aside from official support for the just-released HD 4850 and HD 4870). The complete change-log for xf86-video-ati 6.9.0 and source download links can be found on the X.Org mailing list.
While AMD still has yet to release any R600 programming documentation or the source-code to their KGrids or TCore simulators (though the documentation may finally just be days away), Alex Deucher and David Airlie have been working on R600 DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) support. Today the first bits of this DRI component for the Radeon HD 2000/3000 series is now available. Within the Mesa/DRM git tree at FreeDesktop.org is a new r6xx-support branch. This R600 DRM uses the CP (Command Processor) for communication, but before checking out this branch, be forewarned that 3D acceleration isn't ready yet. While there is open-source R500 3D support and it's working quite well, Alex believes it will be at least another month or two until the Mesa and DDX code is in place for this R600 3D hardware acceleration.
Twelve days after the first xf86-video-ati 6.9.0 Release Candidate, the second RC release is now available for testing. Since xf86-video-ati 6.9.0-rc1, the man page has been updated, a ShadowFB R600 fix, PLL tweaks, a possible fix for VGA on ATI IGP chipsets, warning fixes, cleanups, and other work. If you're interested in testing out xf86-video-ati 6.9.0-rc2 on your Radeon graphics card (up to and including the just-announced Radeon HD 4850/4870), this is a git-only release and can be cloned from git://anongit.freedesktop.org/git/xorg/driver/xf86-video-ati.
Now that there is a Stream SDK for Linux (related reading: AMD Stream Linux Q&A), if you're looking for a new solution for accelerating CAL and Brook+ development / stream computing, AMD has a possible answer for you. This morning in Dresden, Germany they have announced the FireStream 9250. The FireStream 9250 is also the first unit to break the tera-flop barrier! The first FireStream part introduced earlier was the FireStream 9170, which provides up to 500 GFLOPS of computing power. The FireStream 9250 will be available later this year at a price of $999 USD. More information is available in their press release.
AMD's Alex Deucher has today announced the availability of the documentation covering the R600 Family Instruction Set Architecture. This ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) documentation covers the unified shader block found on the Radeon HD 2000/3000 series and newer. This PDF document is 342 pages long and does go into detail surrounding R600 vertex and geometry shaders.
Yesterday was NVIDIA's turn in the spotlight with the introduction of the GeForce 9 Mobile GPUs and Hybrid SLI. Today the attention turns to AMD with their new announcements coming out of Computex. AMD has introduced their next-generation notebook "Puma" platform, its fastest notebook graphics processor ever, an external graphics solution for notebooks, and PowerXpress improvements.
NVIDIA has long supported their CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) technology on Linux for allowing general-purpose code algorithms to be executed on the graphics processor, while AMD and their Stream Computing support has been absent on Linux. AMD has only been supporting their Stream SDK on Windows XP, but this morning we have confirmation that the Software Development Kit will be released for Linux in the coming days. According to AMD's Michael Chu on the AMD Developer Forums, an SDK v1.1 Beta is expected within the next two weeks (this message appeared a week ago) and that testing has been done with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SuSE Enterprise. This SDK will make it possible to use CAL and Brook+ on Linux, permitting of course you're using an R600 GPU.
For those of you using an RS480 or RS690 IGP with the open-source xf86-video-ati, there is great news coming out of the Airlie camp. Compiz is now working for the RS480 and RS690! David Airlie has found a bug in the Mesa R300 DRI driver and has committed a patch (containing just three new lines of code and one line removal) correcting this issue. So that non-git users can experience the joys of Compiz on their ATI IGPs with the open-source driver, David will be pushing this fix into the Mesa 7.0.x (the next release should be Mesa 7.0.4) as well as releasing updated Mesa packages for Fedora 8 and Fedora 9. David Airlie mentioned this on his blog.
AMD's Alex Deucher has taken the Mesa r500test branch maintained by David Airlie for the open-source ATI R500 work and has pushed it into Mesa's r500-support branch. This branch is for those looking to play with the initial open-source R500 DRI (Direct Rendering Infrastructure) support. Alex has also added in the remaining R500 PCI IDs so that all of you with Radeon X1000 hardware should be able to more easily experience the joys of hardware-accelerated glxgears (Okay, it's not quite as exciting as ET:QW or Doom 3 but still a major milestone).
In late February AMD had released the much anticipated R500 3D programming guide followed my two minor revisions to it over the past month. Today AMD has released another revision to the R500 3D programming guide, which now includes expanded coverage of the Command Processor (CP) found on the R500 graphics processors. Version 1.3 of this documentation can be downloaded from X.Org.
For those using motherboards with the AMD RS690 IGP, the DDIA Digital Block is now supported by the RadeonHD (xf86-video-radeonhd) driver. DDIA is the second digital block on this IGP that came as a mystery to both AMD and the RadeonHD developers as they believed no motherboard vendors were actually using this block. With this latest code addition, two displays should now work with the RS690 in an independent fashion. Check out the latest xf86-video-radeonhd git code if you're one of these RS690 owners. A few other code fixes were also committed this afternoon.
Last Thursday, David Airlie achieved hardware-accelerated glxgears on an open-source R500 Mesa implementation based upon the earlier R300 code. This is a big step forward for open-source 3D on these newer ATI Radeon graphics cards, but it's still a work in progress. However, this morning David Airlie has merged his Mesa/DRM work to the mainline DRM branch. This work, previously housed in his personal git tree under the branch "r500-fp", can now be found in the master Mesa/DRM git. His Mesa work (in the "r500test" branch) still hasn't been merged to master as there is more work to be done on that side.
Alex Deucher has been working on delivering full EXA Composite support for the Radeon driver and today the first bits of this work are available via his personal git repository. The full EXA Composite not only covers the R300 and R400 generations, but it already supports the Radeon X1000 (R500) graphics cards! In Alex's blog post he mentions that some blend combinations still need to be debugged, but the R300/400 support in general is pretty solid. For the R500 support, full EXA compositing is working for some graphics cards but not others. For those interested in trying out this latest Radeon work, check out the r3xx-render branch (well, until it gets merged to master). On the other side of the table, currently the RadeonHD driver lacks full EXA Composite support.
In the Phoronix Forums following Friday's release of the (NDA-free) ATI R300 3D register information, AMD's John Bridgman has confirmed that he is looking to release documentation going back to the ATI Radeon 8500 era graphics processors. Years ago ATI had released this R200 documentation to the open-source driver developers at the time, but it was encumbered by legal restrictions.
At CeBIT 2008 in Germany, AMD today announced the 780 Series Chipset. This budget-minded motherboard chipset, which is compatible with Quad-Core Phenom CPUs but a step-down from the 790FX Chipset, takes on gaming and high-definition computing for mainstream PC users on both the desktop and mobile platforms. What is special though about this chipset is its support for AMD's Hybrid Graphics Technology.
Less than a week after AMD introduced its R300-500 3D programming guide, they have today pushed out a revised 3D programming guide. This updated documentation covers more vertex program formats than the v1.1 draft that had come out just before FOSDEM 2008. This addition adds four pages onto the 3D documentation, making it now 266 pages long. This documentation can be downloaded from the AMD developer website.
Since AMD openly released the R300-R500 3D programming documents this past Friday, it has led to a flurry of improvements with the xf86-video-ati "Radeon" driver. On the same day as the document release, Textured Video for the R100-400 series was committed to master followed by Textured Video for the R500 series the next morning (and Rotate support as well). Succeeding that work over the past few days has been many commits to the xf86-video-ati tree. These 30+ commits mostly contain fixes and filling in previously unknown areas. The Mach64 and r128 drivers, which previously could be found in xf86-video-ati have been split out and are now housed in xf86-video-mach64 and xf86-video-r128, respectively. Clipping for Textured Video in the Radeon driver has also been corrected. If you extensively use the open-source Radeon driver for the R100-500 series, you may want to check out the latest xf86-video-ati driver from git.
When John Bridgman mentioned at his FOSDEM talk that Textured Video support may be arriving soon, we didn't realize that it would end up being just hours away! Shortly after Alex Deucher had committed R100-400 Textured Video support, David Airlie went ahead and implemented Textured Video support for the R500 series. Furthermore, Rotate support has also been added by David for the R500 series. Note, however, that there may be a bug in the clipping with the current Rotate support. The R500 Textured Video support already is great news to see coming just a day after the AMD 3D document release.
With the Friday night release of the R300-500 3D programming documentation, which open-source developers have already been pleased by, what will be AMD's next strategic OSS move? AMD is still in the process of releasing an R600 3D programming guide, Tcore, the bottom layer of the fglrx driver (possibly), and other information. These efforts are all to better enable the open-source community in developing the R500+ RadeonHD driver and further enriching the R300/400 Radeon driver. They have also stated their intentions on releasing sensor information so that ATI graphics cards with supported temperature probes and fan controllers can be supported by LM_Sensors.
In another move of good faith for the open-source community, AMD has today announced it has opened up their once proprietary AMD Performance Library. The AMD Performance Library, or APL for short, has been opened up under the name of Framewave. AMD's press release drumming up this announcement describes its goal as " to further enable the performance-optimized APL and expand its functionality beyond the existing core media capabilities, ensuring developers have an accelerated conduit to high performance application development." The AMD Performance Library / Framewave covers a multitude of operations from simple math operations to media processing and optimizations for multi-core environments. Among the supported operations are H.264 video decoding. The Framewave project is housed over at SourceForge and at the AMD Developer Center.
It's been a long time in the making, but the xf86-video-ati driver has finally reached version 6.8.0! The major improvements in this new version include the drivers now all using libpciaccess, restructuring of the ATI wrapper, Radeon support for the R500/600 series using the AtomBIOS, initial Render acceleration support for the R300/400 series, improve BIOS/driver interaction, and many other changes. More information can be found in the Xorg release announcement.
While the Radeon R700 series of graphics processors aren't yet available, it's getting closer to release, and yesterday the ALSA development tree picked up support for HDMI audio on the R700 series. This patch, which was submitted by one of AMD's engineers, adds support for the RV710, RV730, RV740, and RV770 GPUs. This support can be found in the hda-intel driver in the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA). The Radeon R600 series was first to introduce an embedded audio processor for use when using the HDMI adapter (Using HDMI With ATI Linux Drivers). Support for the R600 series has already been in ALSA.
AMD has today launched their new open GPU documentation website for register-level documents covering their ATI Radeon products. In addition, they are now providing an email address for any open-source developers who may have questions concerning these documents. No new documents are being published today, but this page is just offering up the previously-released M56, M76, RV630, and RS690 documentation from their previous two drops. The 3D (and R600 2D) "tcore" documentation should be released soon though (FOSDEM? :)).
For those of you using the RadeonHD driver with a Radeon X1000 (R500) graphics card, today it has picked up EXA and XAA support! This support is still very initial -- with no EXA accelerated (DMAed) up or download yet -- but it means the start of open-source 2D acceleration for these ATI graphics cards. The git commits pushing this XAA/EXA support were made just minutes ago to xf86-video-radeonhd on FreeDesktop's server. This support has also been announced on the RadeonHD mailing list. Furthermore, there is additional commentary in the RadeonHD IRC channel logs. This accelerated support at this time is not available for the Radeon HD 2000 (R600) series.
David Airlie has just mentioned on his blog that there is now initial open-source 3D support for the RS690 chipset. AMD's RS690 is an IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) found on some motherboards and has been somewhat popular for HTPC/media purposes. While the RS690 is part of the 6xx series, it has R500 era mode-setting with a stripped-down R400 era 3D core. Currently, this open-source 3D support is similar to the RS400 series with glxgears and some 3D applications working, but don't look for any desktop eye-candy through Compiz (it's not quite that far, yet).
If you've been running into problems building the Fedora RPMs for the ATI Catalyst 8.01 Linux driver, check out the latest packaging scripts available at Phorogit. The latest commit on January 20 adds the new amdnotifyui file to RPM SPEC file, which should address the build issue that crept into the Fedora 8.01 scripts. This information is available through the Phorogit viewer or by running git-clone http://phorogit.com/repo/fglrx-packaging.git. If you run into any other technical issues, be sure to stop by the Phoronix Forums.
Alex Deucher has announced that he has added initial EXA Render Accel for R300/400 graphics cards to the open-source xf86-video-ati driver. Initially this work only supports transforms for rotation, with no blending support yet. Eventually, this will also be something of benefit for R500 (Radeon X1000) owners as well. This latest code can be found in the xf86-video-ati git tree at FreeDesktop.org. If you run into any problems with this driver, be sure to report them on the Radeon IRC channel. Props go out to Alex, Wolke Liu, and David Airlie for this R300/400 EXA Render Accel work.
756 AMD news articles published on Phoronix.